Grand Cards: February 2009

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Retail Group Break Progress Repot

Well, this has gone better than expected thus far. As of right now we're looking at:

Night Owl: Dodgers
Baseball Dad: Indians
Dinged Corners: Mets
Me: Tigers
Lake Effect Cards: Royals & Cubs
Hamiltonian: Rangers (tentative)
I Heart Halos: Angels
RogerL: Marlins & Rays

That gives us 10 teams, which is not too shabby, with Nachos Grande interested in the Patches & SPs (RogerL is too). For more clarification, I was planning on giving all cards from a given team to that person, including inserts, patches etc. I think that multi-player cards will be subject to Randomization between multiple claimants.

Also, I thought that I heard that the Target blasters wouldn't be out until April. Is that true? If so, would people still want to do a break of the Black Borders? I'm thinking 2 or 3 boxes. If somebody knows anything about the target cards, please pass it along.

I'd like to get at least 2 more teams in here and do 3 boxes for $5 per person (if the Walmart Cards are all that's available) or get 6 more teams and do 4 boxes. Once I get two more, I will update the list and confirm with each of you. Then, I will ask for the monies and pick up boxes on Monday with a Break Monday Night (if all goes according to plan). Sound good? Tell your friends--there are still a few good teams out there.

Thoughts? Suggestions?

Ultimate Checklist: 2008 Sweet Spot

It's been a little while since I've gotten an Ultimate Checklist post up here, and there are only a few left. So, for those of you who still have any interest in 2008 cards (and why wouldn't you?) I give you Sweet Spot:
2008 Sweet Spot #QS-OCGV Quad Patch (#/25)

You may recognize this card as my first card of 2009, and wrote a little blurb about it then. I still feel the same way now--this is a very nice card, I don't often get the pleasure of multi-colored patches. The patches are in unique configurations, and while I'm marginally annoyed that it doesn't show Cabrera in a Tigers uniform (he did play there for ALL of 2008) I like that he has an obvious Marlins patch to go with his Marlins picture. Since I bought this card for the Granderson, the pre-Tiger Cabrera just serves as a unique element and additional splash of color.

The only other Granderson card in Sweet Spot is the regular jersey variation of the card shown here. I'd imagine that the quad swatch looks how you'd expect--with four colorless swatches instead of the patches. Suffice to say that I envision that card as being lackluster compared to its patch equivalent.

All in all, Sweet Spot produced another sharp Granderson card, featuring another non-running picture (yay!) and put him with three of his all-star caliber teammates. Not much to complain about there.

2009 Topps Retail Parallel Group Break

Ok, so here's what I'm thinking. Sorry if it's a slight rehash from what I said yesterday. I want the Black and Gray Detroit Tigers retail parallels offered at Target and Walmart, but I don't feel the need to splurge on a whole bunch of blasters that will fail to guarantee that I get anywhere close to a set. I also want to avoid exorbitant shipping costs that come from buying these cards individually. So I've decided, if there is enough demand, to do a Group Break on these. Of course, this is all contingent on my local Target and Walmart actually having these blasters (last I checked the Target near my work didn't have ANY 2009 Topps--nothing at all), but I'm willing to go on a bit of recon to find them.

I'm not so sure about the specifics, but I was thinking maybe $5 per person? The average team set has about 10-12 cards in it and I'm thinking of getting 2 Walmart and 2 Target (320 Cards). Since I'm not trying to lose money on the proposition, that would require 16 people at $5 to participate in the break. Given the readership on this blog, I'm not sure that's doable. If we can get 13 people I can do it at $6.

To be more inclusive, and for set builders, I will also offer slots for the "leftover cards." For the same price as a team collector, you can buy the rights to all unclaimed Black or Gray cards within a certain number range. For example, Let's say you buy the rights to card numbers 1-20. Upon the break, I pull 1 Tiger, 2 Indians and 4 Dodgers--you would get the remaining 13 cards in that range.

Make sense?

If you are interested, please let me know in the comments section. So far, I've got interest from:

Night Owl: Dodgers
Baseball Dad: Indians
Dinged Corners: Mets

With me, that leaves us with 12 to go, and I'm just hoping there's enough interest out there to fill it up.

To sum, you may purchase a team or a the rights to an unclaimed card slot (for set builders: could be a range of unclaimed cards to depending on the number of teams-more on this as details emerge). This is not a firm commitment (i.e. no money down), but if the interest is there I will solidify the commitments, buy the cards, and we'll be on our way!

Also, if there is lots of interest, we can push it to 3 blasters of each--I just thought that 2 would be a good starting point.

Friday, February 27, 2009

What to do?

Earlier today, Nachos Grande got the scoop on the Walmart (and Target!) Topps Parallels. For some reason, Nachos Grande is not in my Google Reader (it is now), so this was actually brought to my attention by Cardboard Junkie. Thank goodness for the intertwined card blogging community, no?

Anyway, I am pondering the same thing that many of you are. Do I buy a Walmart Blaster to get the Black Parallels? Do I buy a Target Blaster to get the Gray Retro Parallels? At the moment, I am not spending money on cards, but that won't last forever--it is also more of a way to ease an eBay addiction, as I'm have some restraint when it comes to buying packs at places like Walmart or Target. For me, the bottom line is this: I want the Black and Gray Tigers cards. There are only 9, so that should be easy.

On the one hand, Why would I buy a blaster, in which I'm all but guaranteed NOT to get all the Tigers I need, when I can buy a set of them on eBay.

On the other hand, as has been the case with other retail releases, and judging by the general lack of buzz about these parallels on the blogs, am I confident that there will be a bunch of Tigers sets available online? Will there be so few that the prices will get driven up?

I still don't know where I stand on the whole issue, but perhaps some of you can help me out. If I buy a black and gray blaster, I will only want the Tigers and will make all of the other cards available for trade. Are the rest of you interested in these cards that we can pull the trigger on some trades, or am I going to end up with a pile of unwanted parallels?

TRAIN OF THOUGHT UPDATE!: Would anybody out there be interested in doing a multi-blaster Target/WalMart Group Break with me? I've never done a break before, but I'm thinking pick a team and get all the cards from that team (you know the drill). If you may be interested in this, leave a comment with your team of Choice. If there's enough interest, we'll go from there!

Mystery Package

This post is dedicated to Dinged Corners for their support of this blog from the very beginning, and for their understanding when I posted about a certain autographed baseball and the picture popped up on their blogroll. I am so sorry.

I receive a lot of packages in the mail, but one really stood out to me. It wasn't a bubble mailer, or a thick envelope, or a card box, it was this:

Let's see what's inside, shall we?

Packed in amidst the thick box and crushed egg crates was the most wonderful thing of all. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the first Curtis Granderson card ever made:
2001 Mankato Mashers Curtis Granderson

This card is in perfect shape but is paper thin--like the flimsy old cards that you could rip out of a Sports Illustrated for Kids. It came, and will remain, in a screw down case and may be the proud point of my collection. Sure, its not game-used or autographed or serial numbered, but it is a card that is rare and hard to find for all the legitimate reasons--because its actually rare and hard to find. Curtis was still in College at UIC when this card was made, so in lieu of stats, the Mashers opted for some more personal items on the back:

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Best Autographed Baseball Ever

I stumbled upon this amidst the Doom and Gloom on For all of you autograph collectors out there, can you imagine a cooler item than this?

An excerpt:
On Monday, we told you the story of the Mickey Mantle baseball that was signed "F**k Yogi. Before putting it in their upcoming auction, the folks at Grey Flannel Auctions tried to sell it first for $2,750.

And sell it they did.

Although Richard Russek, president of Grey Flannel, declined to comment, a source told us that the Mantle family purchased the ball, presumably in order to make sure it didn't get into the hands of a collector. Had it not sold by Friday, the ball would have entered the auction with a $1,000 reserve price.

And of course, the ball itself (Children Beware):


What I Did

By now you're probably familiar with the question that I posed the other day. I want to thank all of the responses that you guys left and I grappled with many of the same issues. The majority suggested that I keep the cards that I worked hard to find. Only Dayf seemed willing to part with cards from his collection to acquire other cards from his collection, and only if they were extremely difficult to find. Without further ado, here is the situation, revealed in its entirety:

I traded.

The sets that I was working to complete were 2005 Topps and 2008 Topps. When I say "sets" there is an implicit "of Tigers" tacked on. When I say "complete" I mean that I'm trying to collect every Topps Detroit Tiger card out there, base, inserts, GU, Auto, Retail-inserts, special issues etc. I consider parallels (like Gold cards) to be sets in and of themselves, and while I do collect them, don't consider them part of a complete set.

First, the 2008 Cards that I had worked so hard to acquire:
2008 Topps Clete Thomas RV26 (Kmart) and 18 of 20 (Factory Set)
You may remember one or more of these cards as some of the "Impossible Cards" from 2008 Topps. Because very very few people buy cards at Kmart anymore, and because Series II cards at Kmart seemed to be particularly hard to find, the Clete Thomas Gold Rookie (RV26) is the real find of the bunch. The other card, being only available in a Factory Set was less difficult to find, only because I was on the lookout after being tipped off by Jaybee. However, after the initial release of those factory sets, the bonus singles disappear quickly.

The offer was to trade these two cards for a five card subset from 2005 Topps. Since I got back into collecting, I have never once seen the cards online, either in photos or for sale. It wasn't until earlier this year that some folks on the Detroit Sports Collectors forum posted some shots and information about them. In fact, that was where this trade originated. The cards are designed to look just like 2005 Topps cards, but include an All Star Fanfest logo from the 2005 All Star Game (in Detroit), are serial numbered to 1000 and were only available with a purchase of a complete factory set at the fanfest. Here they are in all their glory:
2005 Topps Detroit Tigers All Star Fanfest Commemorative Set
Here is a closeup of the set's best card (Arguably. That Gibson card is pretty awesome too).
2005 ToppsAl Kaline All Star Fanfest Commemorative Set

I was apprehensive to make the trade, to say the least, but I created a worst case scenario to help. I may give away 2 cards that I will never see again, but I will get 5 cards that I will never see again. I need all 7 cards to complete my set(s) so 5 puts me in better shape over the long term. I also rationalized the trade by thinking that, since it was still 2008, I would have a better chance of coming across the Clete Thomas cards again that I would of randomly crossing the Fanfest set. I was correct, in part. Through some sleuthing, I found a replacement to the Factory Set card before accepting the trade, which sealed the deal for me. I thought that I would find the Kmart Gold in no time at all.

Boy was I wrong. Weeks and months passed and there wasn't a hint of finding this card. I started to get a little Trader's remorse, thinking that perhaps this card was harder to find than I had suspected. To date, it still hasn't shown up on eBay. Fortunately, due to frantic google searching, I was able to find and purchase the card just last week. It arrived the other day and has now graced this post with its presence. So ends the saga of this trade.

What do you think, did I make the right trade? Now that you know all the facts, would you have traded or held?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Bears Pay the Bear Tax

As of today, my wife and I are officially under contract to purchase our first home. If all goes well from here on out, we'll be paying a Homer Tax before you know it.

UPDATE: I couldn't get the sound clip link to work and couldn't find a video clip. SO, if you click on the new link, it is the 9th file down. Well worth your while.)

A Taste of Things to Come

Curtis Granderson singled in the first at-bat of the Tigers' pre-season and later scored on a Miguel Cabrera sacrifice. You can follow the action here, but I think that this is just a taste of a very bright season to come.

In other news: Granderson made the final WBC roster and will be the only Tiger representing the United States. (From the Detroit Free Press)

Cardwise: Walmart Exclusive Black Bordered cards make me go aargh. Others feel the same. I will not be buying any blasters to get these, but if someone wants to put together a Tigers team set for me (it's only 9 cards people), I'd be happy to pay you for your trouble. eBay may also provide, if they show up after the TBD expiration of my spending hiatus.

In the mail: I received a mystery package that I hope to reveal in the next day or so.

Also: I will tell you how I solved my "What Would You Do?" Trade conundrum this evening, provided things work out as expected. In the meantime, you still have time to get your comments in.

Enjoy the rest of your day, everyone!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Comment Issues

Night Owl has observed that there are issues with the word verification for posting comments on a number of blogs, including this one. To remedy this, I have removed word verification on comments for the time being. Please comment away as you wish. May I suggest starting with my last post?

Monday, February 23, 2009

What Would You Do?

I would like to present all of you with a trade scenario, and am very interested to see how you would act. I think that many of you will be able to relate.

The scenario:

You have a collection of a particular brand/team/player that spans across multiple years. After much trail, eBay searching and trading you have able to acquire two particularly hard to find cards from your current year's collection. One card was only available as a hard to find retail insert, the other was only available as part of a complete factory set. No sooner have you elegantly displayed them in your binder when an interesting trade proposal crosses your desk:

In exchange for the two cards that it took you months to track down you are offered five cards from a set that you're trying to complete from a few years before. The background on these cards is that you need them to complete your set and have never seen them online or in stores.

So here is the question:
Do you trade two cards that it took you months to track down this year for five cards that you need from a previous year's set? Those older cards won't complete your set from that year, just help fill in the holes. Meanwhile, your cards from the current year are among the final pieces of the puzzle. Do you make the trade? To you risk giving up two cards that cost you blood, sweat, time and money to get in the first place? Do you risk giving up on a subset of cards that you may never see again?

I'm curious to see what you have to say in the comments or if you've ever been faced with a situation like this. I'll reveal what I did in a subsequent post.

Weekend Trade Catch-Up (Part 3 of 3)

In the spirit of my trade partner on this one, here is a late-night post for you all to enjoy. I hope that those of you that watched enjoyed the Oscars and are now ready for a baseball-related break. Greg (not that Greg) of Night Owl Cards hit the nail exactly on the head when it came to this trade. A few weeks ago I sent him a bunch of old 1991 Topps from my collection as a youngster to help him finish his set. To return the favor, Greg set a package that was LOADED with cards to help me with some of mine.

First, a handful of stunning 2006 Upper Deck cards. I think that this set was absolutely killer and a nice visual departure from other foil laden sets. Yeah, there's foil, but that big, bold last name that sits there without obscuring the picture is just really nice. I'm a big fan of this set. And why wouldn't I be?
Up next, a few recent Topps Heritage cards to help me get my fledgling collection off the ground. I'm not actively pursuing these cards, but I've added them to my wantlist in the hopes that some people will discard their unloved Tigers in my direction. I would not be surprised if I start going after these as soon as this year. At the very least, this is a good start:
Onto the money cards. First up, a 1957 Topps Detroit Tigers team card. It is out of focus. It's corners are round. It is incredible. Thank you so much--I love these old cards and this one has found a very, very good home.

A couple of 1973s follow and are accompanied by a Mickey Lolich card befitting of a true Tiger Collector--somebody who showed off his card to friends, took it with him to school and even tried to get it autographed on more than one occasion. It too has found a good home, creases, bends and all.
One of my favorite cards of all time, which I KNEW that I had in my collection but when I started back up a few years ago couldn't find, is this Travis Fryman card:
As you may know, Travis Fryman is one of my all time favorites and this card is a big reason why. I loved these Upper Deck checklist cards with the player paintings, and as a kid Fryman with a freaking Tiger just couldn't be beat. Love It.

Finally, how could I get a card of Sweet Lou and not post it?

Thank you to the Night Owl for this outstanding trade. I will keep my eyes trained on your wantlist in the future to try and take advantage of your uncanny ability to pull Tigers.

Thank you to all of my recent trade partners--your generosity has gone above and beyond what I ever could have expected. If you're interested in trading with me, just shoot me an email and we'll work something out. Goodnight everyone, and remember-today your team is in First Place.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Weekend Trade Catch-up (Part 2 of 3)

The second package that I received came all the way from the UK, courtesy of John the creator of the Pursuit of 80's(ness) blog. John, out of the goodness of his heart, reached out to me with an offer. He'd send me a bunch of Tigers cards and I would trade him whatever I thought was fair in return. One HUGE package later, and I've got my work cut out for me.

As you may know, I was absent from the card world from roughly 1995-2005 and had no clue what sort of cards were made in that time. John's package certainly helped me get a better sense. While he sent far too many cards for me to list and post, I will gladly show off some of the highlights.

First, a trio of cards of the Big Daddy, Cecil Fielder:

I always liked Cecil Fielder and am glad he was able to pick up that series ring after he left the Tigers. I also still feel as though he was screwed out of the World Series MVP by John Wettland. Do any Yankees (or other) fans have thoughts on this?

Next up, a Diamond Kings beauty of Tony Phillips. Now, I'm not as enamoured with Diamond Kings as some, mostly because there weren't many good Tigers around when these cards were being made (there were a few, but not a ton), but I must say that this card of Tony Phillips, a fan favorite during his stay with the Tigers, is a keeper.

Now, I had not heard of Upper Deck Ovation before opening this package, and seeing Tony Clark and Dean Palmer on these cards lets me know that they were from the Tigers' lost decade, but man these cards are awesome. The combination of thick card stock, raised laces and baseball-like texture is just really, really cool. A photograph won't do it justice, so I recommend going to your local card shop and asking if you can touch an old Ovation base card. I guarantee that you won't get any weird looks or snide comments, just a knowing nod from a fellow collector that recognizes the inherent greatness of these cards. He'll pull a well worn Ovation from a box under the counter, worn thin from thousands of touches over the years and you'll remember what it was like to feel a card that has been untainted by the mylar and hard plastic that has encased our card worlds.

While I took a few more shots, one of a nice looking Upper Deck Al Kaline Cooperstown Collection card and another of a Kyle Sleeth First Year cards from Topps' Cracker Jack set, there is really only one more card worth posting. It features the single nicest photograph from any set of 2008 and is one of the more stunning and memorable card pictures that I've ever seen. The only drawback is the damn verizon ad covering the Whale Building. This brings back longing memories for watching baseball in Detroit, something that I get the chance to do maybe once a year, if I'm lucky. It is also reminiscent of the view that I used to get at Camden Yards, before they built that God-Forsaken Hilton hotel beyond left field that blocked the skyline and ruined the view. Geez, don't people think about aesthetics anymore? Anyway, decide for yourself, but I'm guessing that you'd be hard pressed to find a nicer shot than this.

Weekend Trade Catch-Up (1 of 3)

I've had a number of trades come in over the last few weeks, but with life intervening, a backup computer for the weekend and the general size of these trades, it has taken me a while to give them the respect that they deserve. So, instead of putting them into one long post, I'm splitting them into three. That way, if I can't get all of the pictures taken and uploaded I won't feel bad.

The first trade comes from Greg of Lake Effect Baseball Cards (Sorry I missed the link when this originally posted). Greg shot me an email asking for some choice items off of my tradelist, which I was more than happy to provide. In exchange, Greg offered a handful of top-notch cards that either filled some holes in my collection, added to its general awesomeness, or both.

I'll cut to the chase and show you the money piece first.
This is a Granderson blog after all folks, and this here card takes care of the "Career Best" cards that Granderson has in 2009 Topps Series 1.

Additionally, some fine looking parallels were included in the trade.
This Gold Edgar Renteria from 2008 Topps is a great addition for me. I think that over the last few years (when the Topps cards have had big borders), these Gold cards have looked exceptional. This card is no exception. The only downside is that its a poorly photoshopped version of a player that had an underwhelming season, after costing the Tigers two players with the Best Names ever.

In a case of "when it rains, it pours", I went from having no "Black" parallels to having two in just a few weeks. The first came from Jaybee and now Greg sends another one over.

Like the Gold, a feast for the eyes (except not in this case where it seems my picture is blurry but my backup computer is too slow to make it worth re-taking and re-uploading. Don't stare too hard, folks)

Finally, a 2009 Miguel Cabrera Toppstown card and an Ivan Rodriguez Upper Deck insert round out the envelope. Thank you to Greg for the wonderful trade, and I'll keep my eye out for those Geovany Soto and Alex Gordon cards that you're looking for!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Ultimate Checklist: 2008 UD Spectrum

Spectrum is one of those sets that the majority of people that I've read simply do not like. I'm not really sure why its is so unpopular, because I don't know what any of the cards look like other than the Granderson's. The nice thing is, given that people tend not to think twice about Spectrum, I've been able to pick up a nice grouping of cards on the cheap. Much like UD Heroes, Spectrum provides the opportunity to put together the "rainbow" of parallels, except this time with shiny, reflective goodness as well.

The main Granderson in the set is part of the "Spectrum Swatches" series, that looks like this:

Granderson with a glove (finally!), shinyness, gray swatch, you get the idea. These cards have a number of parallel versions. There is the main version (teal? turquoise?) numbered to 99. In addition you have:

Orange (#/75)
Green (#/50)
Red (#/35)
Brown Auto (#/30)
Purple (#/28)
Lt. Blue (#/15)
Green Patch (#/15)
Lt. Gray (#/5)
Dark Gray (1/1)

Even in slightly incomplete form these look pretty sharp together, don't you think? (I couldn't fit the light blue #/15 in the shot, but it looks basically the same as the first card #/99. Oh well.)

Other than that slew of multi-colored game used parallels, there is one other card in the set--a Dual Spectrum Swatches card with Magglio Ordonez #/99. I have no idea what this looks like and don't really want to know. I know that sounds spiteful, but a lot of people spent a lot of time hating on Spectrum and based on the one card (and its variations) that I have/have seen, I don't mind it at all. I'm sure things would be different if I were exposed to the whole set, which is why I'm apprehensive about finding that Ordonez/Granderson card.

Anyway, that's my two cents on Spectrum. For the sake of other collectors out there I hope that they improve their set in 2009, but for my sake, just give me some nice looking Granderson cards and I'll be fine.

Still Room...

Ever wonder why I've decided to devote an entire collection and blog to Curtis Granderson? I thought I explained it well here, but if you can go the mainstream media route if you're not sold. The Detroit Free Press put together a killer article this morning that explains just what Curtis Granderson means to baseball. All I can say is get on the bandwagon now, before it runs out of room. Don't say you weren't warned.

An excerpt for those disinclined to click:
In what might be the best example of that, when Granderson signed a $30.25-million contract extension with the Tigers last February, he also changed future endorsement contracts with Nike, Rawlings and Louisville Slugger.

Starting with this season, he no longer will get a retainer from the companies. Instead, he asks that they donate equipment to inner-city youth baseball teams across the state.

Definitely worth a read.

Friday, February 20, 2009


Having thoroughly exhausted myself keeping track of all of the Ty Cobb Sketch Cards in 2009 Topps, this card popped up on eBay the other day and I thought to myself "please be the only one, please be the only one."


Today, a new, and aesthetically superior version popped up. It is kind of awesome.
The question I have is, what do I do? As a Granderson collector, I would like to add these cards, but at this point I'm so disillusioned by them that I am barely willing to submit a bid. Of course, as I mentioned before, I am on spending hiatus right now, so the point is moot. Still, at some point I'll be buying again, and if the Georgia Peach is any indication, I'll have plenty of opportunity to do so.

Known Curtis Granderson "1 of 1" Sketch Cards
2008 Stadium Club: 4
2009 Topps: 2

A Final Sketch Note

I'm sick of pointing out all of the sketch cards that I find of the same player, feeling as though I have proved my point. So here is one last shot of a Ty Cobb sketch card (the 11th in 2009 Topps, by my count). While I am, without a doubt a Tigers collector, I'll be leaving my obsessions for my Granderson collection, if it's alright by you. So, bask in the glory of one last one-of-one Ty Cobb card and we can all move on with our lives.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Ultimate Checklist: 2008 UD Premier

Enough of that creepy Ty Cobb picture on the front, don't you think? I thought it was ok when I first found it, but the more I looked at it, the weirder it got.

Anyway, let's take a look at Granderson's presence in the high-end UD Premier. This set actually includes one of my favorite Granderson's of the year, but in a strange way. Have you ever had a card that you liked, or were drawn to, but had no idea why you really liked it? That's how I feel about the "Emerging Stars" Dual Autograph card of Granderson and Fred Lewis (#/35).
2008 UD Premier #ES-GL Emerging Stars Auto
I'm not sure if you can see it or not, but for some reason I think that this card is great. Beats me. There may also be a parallel version of this card #/15. I haven't seen it and it's not on any checklist I've found, but other "Emerging Stars" Dual Autos have a parallel like this, so I'll keep my eyes peeled just in case.

Onto the normal set, Granderson has a base card, #147. In case you weren't aware, people don't care about base cards in high-end sets. In an attempt to remedy this, Upper Deck has serial numbered the cards in Premier to make them seem rare. We have:
Base (#/99)
Blue (#/15)
Silver (#/5)
Gold (#/1)
and an Autographed Parallel (#/25)

I have none of these cards, having only come across them sparingly on the open market. Moving on, the standard "hit" in the set is his "Milestones Autograph"--one of the first autograph cards of Granderson that I ever got (and I got it CHEAP--Woo!) For this card there is a Milestones Autograph and two parallel versions. First the regular (#/25)
2008 UD Premier Milestones Autograph (#/25)
A 1/1 Gold Version exists, as does this Platinum Parallel Version (#/5).
2008 UD Premier Milestones Autograph: Platinum
Is it just me, or does the regular card look more platinum-y than the Platinum parallel. Sometimes I think that these cards are just named randomly to correspond with fancy sounding things, regardless of what the card actually looks like.

That sums up my collection from this set, but that's not all she wrote! No sir, There is a Quad Patch of Granderson, Vernon Wells, Torii Hunter and Grady Sizemore--not a bad group if I say so myself. That comes in regular (#/20), Gold (#/10), Platinum (#/5) and Masterpiece (1/1) versions. My memory is kind of fuzzy, but I think that this card is pretty sharp.

Finally, "The Premier Card" in the set (I'm not being cute, that is the name of the card) is a Verlander/Bonderman/Granderson compilation numbered out of 3. One of these is in the hands of the Ultimate Bonderman Collector, another was on eBay a few months ago with a best offer/buy it now. I low balled it and didn't get it, it re-listed and I don't think sold, but now I can't remember. So, there are one, maybe two of these floating around.

In all, I think that Premier is perfectly fine, but I was hardly blown away by it. The base card has a very similar feel to the Milestones Autograph and the other cards are either so scarce or so expensive that I don't really both with them. This is one of those sets that falls way above my price range, so I pick and choose where I can find a bargain. Otherwise, there are many more Grandersons in the world worth paying the big bucks for.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Topps' Sketch Cards Get Sketchier

An anonymous commenter let me know that there is a fourth Granderson sketch card from Stadium Club--one with the same picture and by the same artist as a previous one, just in portrait formatting instead of landscape. Even worse, we can add two more sketch cards to Ty Cobb's ever-growing 2009 Portfolio. The first is actually a nice full color shot: The second perfectly showcases the egregious use of the 1 of 1 moniker:
Look familiar to anyone? Here's a refresher
Same artist, same orientation, slightly different coloring and border lines.

Again, some of these cards are really quite nice (the examples that I've shown here, for instance), but I can't help feel like Topps tried to pull the wool over our eyes in the advertising and promotion of these.

Keeping Score? Granderson '08 Stadium Club: 4
Cobb '09 Topps: 10

The Night Owl Cometh

I'd like to welcome Night Owl Cards into my friendly "Card Blogs of Merit" portion of the sidebar. I found that I was consistently drawn to new posts as they popped up on my Google Reader, and was surprised when I saw that it wasn't on the list already. The consistently good and entertaining writing and frequent posts are more than enough reason for me. From my end, I'm sorry that it took so long.

Also, for interested parties, I've added one of those "followers" dealies to the bottom of the sidebar as well (below the blog archive--I'll move it up once I have more than an embarrassingly low number). So, if you'd like to have your little picture included as a "Grand Reader" I would love to have you.

Time to Buy

I'd like to piggyback on a few excellent posts that Gellman has put up recently. In them he has advocated smart and tasteful spending to really help your collection grow while cutting out the fluff. This is a theory that I strongly subscribe to and I couldn't have said it better myself. I know that we all go through "cleaning" phases and focusing our collections (I know I did), and this is a perfect time to do so with yours.

However, an excellent article in the New York Times today makes another point that is not being appropriately recognized. Not everybody is hurting for cash right now. In fact, many people are in the same financial position that they were in last year or the year before. For those of you who have a little extra cash, this is a great time to pick up a few things that you might need. While the article advocates spending discretely and privately, with suggestions like in-home renovations and the like, I would say that adding a few key cards to your collection fits that definition to a T. With Demand languishing, prices are down and you can probably find a few good bargains out there for cards that you'd like to own.

I'm hardly advocating reckless spending and I realize that not everybody is in the position to do this, but if there was ever a time when your country needed you to collect baseball cards, this would be it. So treat yourself to a couple nice cards for your collection--maybe just wait until this whole economy thing turns around to blog about it.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Ultimate Checklist: 2008 UD Heroes

Let's keep chipping away at '08, shall we? Especially while we're under my self imposed spending ban? UD Heroes is a set that I did not expect to like. When it first came out I thought that it looked dated (it was), I thought the base card coloring was ugly and I thought that the parallels were blinding and tacky. I didn't really both to pick any of these up until months after the original release. I was able to put together a few Grandersons, including a game used jersey or two, and before I knew it I was hooked. Has this happened to anybody else?

You see, while Heroes feels like it would be death for somebody trying to complete a set (even a team set--ugh, it seems so boring), it is absolutely tremendous, albeit a little frustrating, for a player collector. All of those "blinding" colors turn out to be awesome--way better than just the base card. Now, with the majority of the variations under my belt, completing "the rainbow" in this set has risen up the priority chart. Can't you see why? I realize that's not the best picture (I'm still getting used to this "internet" thing--and I don't have a current version of photoshop on my computer) but hopefully you get the jist. Putting all of those colors together is fun. It fills out pages nicely and is so much better than chasing down nearly indistinguishable parallels like Gold, Bronze, Copper, SilverManganese, and Hyper-Polonium. I'm sure that I'll regret saying this as I stare at blank holes in an otherwise colorful page, but it is rather enjoyable chasing down these cards.

Anyway, for those of you who may be interested in joining me on this quest, or starting one of your own, there are Grandersons a-plenty to be had. He is card #60 in the set.

Emerald (#/499)
Black (#/399)
Beige (#/299)
Red (#/249)
Navy Blue (#/199)
Brown (#/149)
Sea Green (#/99)
Light Blue (#/49)
Purple (#/25)

There are also some game used options which, for reasons that I'll never understand, do not follow the same color/number magnitude pattern as the regular cards. They look the same as the regular cards, with the inclusion of a square piece of jersey:
2008 UD Heroes #60 Curtis Granderson: Emerald Jersey
The game used jersey cards fall into the following categories:

Light Blue (#/200)
Black (#/125)
Red (#/100)
Navy Blue (#/50)
Emerald (#/25)

Huh? Does somebody want to explain to me why the Light Blue game used is numbered to 200 while the non-GU version is numbered to 49? aka, the second rarest parallel is the most common game used? Maybe they want to give people a chance of putting a "rainbow" together by substituting game used cards, where appropriate. Anyway, the swatches on those cards are your typical plain-jane jerseys--three out of my four are grey, for what it's worth. But that's not all! There are some patch cards as well, complete with their own incomprehensible numbering scheme:

Light Blue (#/25) --Back to being rare-ish, so far, so good
Beige (#/10) -- 10?!?! for a beige card? Ugh.
Purple (#/5) --another fitting color/number pairing.

So, that's all she wrote on 2008 UD Heroes. Definitely a fun set for a player collector to take a crack at, providing plenty of surprising variety for a release in which every card basically looks the same. I can't imagine having too much fun with this if the same basic design is released again and I have to chase more Grandersons, but I guess if Thorzul can do it, than it can't be all bad.

For those of you keeping score at home, there are only 6 more sets from 2008 left to talk about. Once I've wrapped it up (with a little "Best Of" post, hopefully), I'll be doing the same things with his cards from 2002 to present, with plenty of present day scans and insight mixed in. Again, I apologize for the somewhat sporadic posting--who knew that house hunting and "working for a living" would take up so much time?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

2009 Upper Deck: Tiger Edition

Of the many things that have trickled in through the mail over the last few days, one was a 2009 Team Set of my beloved Detroit Tigers. While, as I've said before, I'm a Topps Collector at heart, the fine photographic track record that Upper Deck has compiled over the years has persuaded me to pursue the Tigers base cards from those issues. This has proven to be a relatively low-cost, high reward situation and this year has been no different.

While many people, myself included, are big fans of the 2009 Topps Design, Upper Deck's praise has been comparatively muted. Well, I'm here to set the record straight. Upper Deck did two things very, very right this year that Topps did very, very wrong.

1. Curtis Granderson

Topps does not have a Curtis Granderson base card in Series 1. That is an absolute travesty that I recommend that the rectify in the future. In Granderson's history in Topps (2006-2009) he has only made Series 1 once--in 2008 when he was the very last card in the deck, #330. Meanwhile, Upper Deck not only includes a Granderson base card, but rightfully recognizes his accomplishments on last year's team.
2009 Upper Deck #131 Curtis Granderson
2009 Upper Deck #437 Team Leaders

To Topps' credit, they do have a Turkey Red insert of Granderson to go along with his relic and jersey cards, but come on! No Base Card? Who do they think he is--Derek Jeter?

2. Tigers

Topps continued to employ the Golden Ratio for Tigers, giving us fans 9 whole cards of the team, two of which (Renteria & Joyce) are no longer with us. Sure, there are 10 when you count the Cobb SP, but I like talking about things like Golden Ratios, so let's ignore that for the time being. Meanwhile, Upper Deck has chosen to give us 19 delightful Tigers cards. Sure, that is like death to a collector, giving you one lone card on a new page, but it's no worse than Topps, when you add in the Cobb (the Time-Being is now over, it seems) and there are twice as many! While Topps has done a fantastic job with their photography and design this year, a few shots from Upper Deck really jumped off the card to me:

The much maligned Dontrelle Willis in one of the more entertaining pictures you'll see. Here he is, in the midst of dialogue with Barney Stinson

Dontrelle, Dontrelle, right here. You keep pitching it in the same place. You're in a rut. And I am a rut buster. I'm going to bust your rut. Throw strikes.
Dontrelle: It's not a rut, its a routine, and I like it.
Barney: And what's the first part of rut-tine?
2009 Upper Deck Dontrelle Seeks the Strike Zone

In one of Upper Deck's bizarre future predictors cards, they accidentally turned Gary Sheffield's 500th Home Run into a base card. Here he is, looking the way we wish he had looked for all of the last two years. You heard it here first (maybe?), I'm calling a BIG year for Sheff in 2009, starting with Home Run #500 on Opening Day (or, in the first week. Relax.)
2009 Upper DeckSheff Hits a Ball that will Never Come Down

In one of the truly great shots in this set, Placido Polanco displays his Gold Glove talent. Perhaps one of the most under-appreciated players in the game, Polanco's excellent defense and consistently consistent offense will make him an invaluable piece of the puzzle in '09.
2009 Upper Deck Polanco's Head Gives Him Perfect Balance

In all, I really do like the 2009 Upper Deck set, from a Tiger perspective. Sure, maybe 19 cards is overkill for a last place team, but 9 cards from Topps is a bit insulting. Here's to making it up in Series 2, and continued excellence from Upper Deck. By the end of 2009 I'm hoping that both sets fully showcase the Tigers' World Series Run! I'll leave you now, with a wonderfully bittersweet ending.

"The Rollercoaster" Todd Jones makes what should be his final baseball card appearance, and it couldn't be more fitting. While not the most beloved player in Detroit (My brother and I once stood up and tore our Todd Jones posters in half after he blew a save on Todd Jones poster day), his pleasant demeanor, great usage of self-deprecating humor, and remarkable ability to actually get saves (how, I'll never know) has allowed him to end his career on Tigers Fans' good side. Here he is, giving one last salute goodbye.
2009 Upper Deck Farewell Todd Jones

Friday, February 13, 2009

F it.

I will not be spending a single dollar more on baseball cards for the rest of the month, at least.


After I was outbid on the Granderson card, I shot off a quick email to the Mankato Moondogs (12:26pm):

Is there any chance that you guys have an old baseball card team set from 2001--back when you were the Mankato Mashers? Specifically, I am looking for Curtis Granderson's card from the set, but would be willing to buy the whole thing if there happens to be one in an old box somewhere. If somebody has just the Granderson Card I'd be willing to purchase that as well. I work for a low-level minor league team and know how things like that can be packed away, so I just thought I'd ask.

Thank you for your help, and good luck in your upcoming season!

I was thinking, of course, that they had some old packs in some boxes in a back room and they'd be able to find a few extra sets, from which I could buy that card.

At 1:54 Dave over at Fielder's Choice posted matter-of-factly that I should have sniped the auction--a strategy that has been proven to work, but equally to "sitting" (aka the strategy I employed when bidding days before). Because of the time and energy involved with Sniping, and the limitations of bidding on items at work, I rarely try to snipe. When I do, I often miss the auction entirely. This will, in all likelihood, be the subject of a full post in the future.

To my surprise, I got a response from the Moondogs GM very quickly. The picture, it seems, was far less Rosy:
We didn't have any dealings with the Mashers. Their ownership group walked out in December of 2001 so we have very little left from the Mashers. I've tried to collect as much as possible over the years but since few people attended those games, there isn't much out there. We do have a few packs of the old cards but we've only managed to collect 5 or so of Granderson's cards and we'll be hanging onto those for obvious reasons.

If we would have more I'd love to help you out but with only a few remaining we're not going to be selling any.

Sorry we can't help

Timestamp: 2:17pm; T-minus 12 minutes until the end of the auction

This email gave me significantly more information on my likelihood of ever finding one of these cards again. My preferences changed to put me at the far left of the demand curve, if you know what I mean.

F it. I'm all in.

I pulled up the auction and dutifully hit refresh every minute or so to see if the price was escalating even further. Three minutes to go. My palms are sweaty--I'm trying to calculate exactly what bid will win this auction at the last minute. Two Minutes to go. I feel like I'm refreshing every three seconds now. This is torture. 1:50, 1:44, 1:37...Stop. Breathe. I pulled up a new article and pretended to read it while I counted slowly up to 30. Refresh. 50 seconds. Bid time.

Studies have shown that your likelihood of winning an eBay auction are no different if you bid at 59 seconds or 2 seconds--everything under a minute is good. 36 seconds. Confirm Bid...

Fail. 30 Seconds to go and I couldn't pull it off.

Yeah right. Bid Again. Confirm. Refresh to Check your Status. 24. Refresh. 19. Refresh 14. Refresh 11, 9, 7, 4, 2.

30 Seconds later I get this follow up from the Moondogs' GM (after I told him, "if you ever want to sell any, let me know"):
No problem. If we find a bunch we'll let you know but I doubt that will happen!

I guess it's a good thing I won.

Out of respect to myself, my wife, our current and future finances and the Grandness of this card, I will now be placing a moratorium on all new purchases until further notice.


An eBay auction for a Granderson card that I've never seen before has devolved into a bidding war with me and another bidder. I first bid on the card four days ago and bumped it up this morning. I put in my absolute, absolute max on it and was promptly outbid again. Now I'm out and somebody is getting a card that I didn't even know existed. It is a 2001 Card from the Mankato Mashers' team set.

For those of you that are not as disgustingly aware of baseball teams as myself, the Mankato Mashers (now the Mankato Moondogs) are a team in the Northwoods League--a summer collegiate league that takes active college players and plays a full summer schedule using wood bats in preparation for the professional ranks. I've swiped the picture on this one for all to see.

While I didn't know about this card, a certain somebody did, and mentioned it all the way back in 2006. So, while it appears that I have missed the boat on this card, if anybody ever sees one in the future and wants to keep me abreast, I would forever be in your debt.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Blog Bat Around #4: To Buy or Not To Buy

That didn’t take long did it? With the pre-season excitement in full swing, the fourth Blog Bat Around (the second in my blogging lifetime) has come up fast and furious. Thank you to the ladies at Dinged Corners for serving as host this time around.

The topic for this go around was a fun one.
Which baseball card or set do you believe will be valuable in ten years? In other words, no matter what happens with the player(s) or industry going forward--injury, steroid accusations, drugs, gambling charges, the demise or ascendancy of Topps, Donruss and Upper Deck--what single card or set from baseball cards past or present do you believe is an absolute BUY and HOLD?

When I first saw the topic, I thought that I was in great shape. I mean, I’ve blogged about card value before, but when I got to thinking about it, I realized that I was at somewhat of a loss. You see, I don’t collect cards for their future value. I collect them because I am a collector. I like cataloguing things, tracking history and seeing changes over time. Still, card values dictate the market by influencing current prices or impacting a Card Investor’s “portfolio.” Compared to the days when my dad collected baseball cards (you know, for fun), the value side of the equation has much more sway today.

I thought that I would take this question from two angles: Economically and from a Collector’s Perspective.

The Economics:
Prices in everything are a function of supply and demand. The two work in tandem, but essentially, as supply decreases or demand increases prices will rise. We saw this with vintage cards (supply=those that weren’t thrown out by Mom when the collector went to college), and see it with players that become stars (as they become more popular, demand increases). Interestingly, with stars, as the become more popular demand increases, but so does supply through the creation of additional inserts and cards to meet demand and drive purchases. One thing that won’t change is the supply of that player’s Rookie Card, but more on that later.

The other key item here is the Price Elasticity of cards. Briefly, elasticity is the market’s sensitivity to price changes. If something is highly elastic (like candy bars), it means that consumers are very sensitive to price. A $2 Milky Way will lose most of its sales to a $1 Snickers. These two items are close substitutes, so a small price change in one will drastically reduce sales. On the flip side are items that are highly inelastic (like Gasoline). There is no close substitute to Gasoline, so price increases will have a lesser effect on how much is consumed.

As a player becomes a star, more and more cards of him are produced, meaning that more substitutes will become available. As more options are out there, prices become more elastic, leading to lower prices than you would see for a player who has become a star, but without the additional card production. While Demand is higher, there are also more choices, helping to keep prices from spiraling out of control. There is, of course, one major exception. Rookie Cards.

Rookie Cards are the “Buy and Holds” of the card industry. I’m not talking about prospecting here, I’m talking about economics. There is no clear substitute for a rookie card, be it a base, relic or autograph. Rookie Cards can only be produced during one season, and will always be among a player’s most coveted cards. The Rookie Card rules that MLB put in place in 2006 will prove to be the best, and most significant decision that has been made in the industry, perhaps ever. The Rookie Card logo removes confusion from the market (except in its first few years, when “Rookie” cards were produced prior to the advent of the rule and then re-produced with the Rookie Card logo a few years later), ensures that Rookie Cards are only made of players who have at least reached the major leagues (reduces the risk of prospecting) and will become a lasting, unmistakable mark for years to come.

The Demand for Rookie Cards is entirely artificial. There is no reason that a Rookie Card should be worth more than a card of the same player in any other given year, other than the fact that the market believes that it should be. Seriously, should a 1982 Cal Ripken Jr. card inherently be worth more than a 1983 card? No. But it is, because it’s his rookie card. With the Rookie Card rules in place, this market perception has been exploited to ensure that Rookie Cards are labeled and marked—forever differentiating them from releases in subsequent years.

Short Prints and Serial Numbering are other tactics that have been used to increase card value. As Supply is one of the key determinants of price, keeping supplies low will keep prices high. Create a short-printed or low numbered Rookie Card and you’re cooking with gas. Throw on an Autograph (which has no substitutes, hence highly inelastic) and you’ve got the holy grail.

Ultimately, the value of a card is entirely contingent on the player’s success and legacy. That is one reason that cards of Hall of Famers and past legends are valued so highly. An Autographed 1/1 RC of Justin Thompson is not going to bring in much cash. However, it will undoubtedly bring the most cash of any Justin Thompson release. So that is your economic formula for the quantifiable features of a card: Rookie Card, Low Supply and Inelasticity lead to the highest prices. If the player becomes a star, you’re good. If not, you’ll just have the highest value card of a low-value player.

“But wait! I saw UD Heroes Rookie Card #/25 sell for less than a Topps Heritage RC! What Gives?? You’re a liar!”

Tisk tisk. Elasticity is a function of how many close substitutes a card has and believe it or not, card collectors have become quite adept at figuring this out. Why do you think that Topps Moments & Milestones “1 of 1” cards can be had for $5? It’s because there are a TON of substitutes for the same player. With Heroes, for example, the creation of many very similar parallels, whose only difference is in the card’s color, has actually created substitutes within that set. By Contrast, Topps Heritage has few substitutes within the same set, and its unique design gives it few substitutes outside the set. While creating Artificial Scarcity via multiple parallels will cause player and some set collectors to buy more cards, actual prices that these cards will receive individually will decrease.

In one Line then, your “Buy and Hold” card from an Economic Perspective is:
A Rookie Card from a release with no or few substitutes and a limited supply.
This logic tells you why vintage rookie cards are among the most valuable in existence. Without knowing whether a player will be a star or whether a star will fall from grace, buying based on Supply is the best bet to minimize risk.
If you want me to draw up the graphs that show how this works, let me know in the comments and I’ll put it in a future post.

The Collector’s Perspective:

Now, the collector in me has a slightly different perspective. While people will continue to Buy and Hold individual cards in the hopes of a big time payoff, I believe that there is more value in completeness. I believe that baseball cards are an example of where a whole is worth more than the sum of its parts. Think about it. The individual cards from a mid-90’s Detroit Tigers set are essentially worthless. Yet a team set can sell for $3. Fast forward to the present day. A team set of base cards can sell for $4-5, but if you add in the inserts, autographs, and hard to get cards it can be worth much more than all of the individual pieces combined.

Ultimately, cards that are hard to find (or hard to find information on) are not only valuable on their own, but can provide tremendous value-added to a master set. Now, I am not suggesting that a 2007 Topps Detroit Tigers Master set can sell for hundreds this year. That it absurd, considering those cards are still (relatively) easy to obtain and that set could still be built. However, in 2017 it’s going to be a lot harder to get information on obscure retail cards or to find the short prints and that set is actually going to have some value.

So, for a collector like myself, the “buy and hold” strategy centers around creating complete sets that go beyond what you can just buy in a store (or Factory Sealed Set). The beauty of this strategy is that this is what collecting is, and has always been, about. It is about adding cards that you don’t have, or tracking down cards that are hard to find. Pulling a card that you need or trading your doubles to fill holes in your set while helping somebody else fill theirs. When you complete a set, there is nothing more to be done except for hold and enjoy. The “buy” was just something that you needed to do to complete your collection. In the end, when you have no more use for what you’ve put together, you can pass it along to the next generation--and I dare you to find a better reason to buy and hold than that.

Good Start to 2009

Lookee what came in the mail yesterday...
2009 Topps Curtis Granderson #CBA-CG
2009 Topps Armando Galarraga CBA-AG
These are the two big Detroit Tigers "Hits" in Topps Series 1, to go along with Granderson and Bonderman Jerseys. I'm waiting for a few cards to trickle in over the next few days and then I'll have a better sense of what were looking at.

One thing is certain: Curtis Granderson has 2 auto/relic cards in 2009 Topps Series 1: Career Best Auto (CBA-CG) and Career Best Relic (CBR-CG). Both look the same, just with an Autograph in place of a jersey swatch (in the shape "OF" to indicate his position). Sadly, Granderson got stuck with the red stock instead of the much nicer looking Blue. I do like the backs of these cards though, which shows their career best statistics in a variety of categories. Why players like Armando Galarraga are included in this, I'm not sure, but I won't complain.

More 2009 cards to come as they end up in my mailbox.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

"Sketchy" Clarification

I was right--those two cards in question from the last post are not part of the Topps Sketch Card series. One (the B&W) is by artist Monty Sheldon and is part of a sequentially numbered series of 25 sketch cards, each 1 of 1. The full color one is described as an "artist proof" that Topps lets the artists keep. Personally, I think it was a card that Topps rejected in favor of another card from the artist. That brings our count back to 7. Fortunately, another one cropped up to bring our count up to 8.

Sadly, this card is quite similar to a handful of the others out there.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

2009 Topps Sketch Card Watch (Ctd.)

Ty Cobb "1 of 1" Sketch Card count is now up to 9 with the addition of these five:

I may have missed a few, because until today I was searching "2009 Cobb" and neglecting the "09 Cobb" that revealed four of the five shown here. For those keeping score at home, that is 9 "1 of 1" Ty Cobb Sketch Cards, at least three of which are starting to look remarkably similar, a la the 2008 Stadium Club Grandersons. I'm also starting to wonder how easy these cards are to forge. Two from this list seem suspicious to me, lacking the requisite "Topps" logo on the front. Stay tuned.